There’s a serious lack of Thanksgiving Day appetizers out on the web. Have you noticed that, or is it just me imagining things? I was searching for some starter ideas for my family’s big celebration, and I couldn’t find much. Especially nothing that appealed to me. We’re always on the lookout for “THE” perfect turkey recipe or “THE” perfect mashed potato recipes for the big day. Sides are pretty important so I get that, there are literally a billion side dish recipes out there. I kid you not, a billion! (Okay maybe not a billion). You get the point though. We’re all concerned about the main components of the meal, but sometimes forget that appetizers are just as important, if not more important, because they set the tone for the entire dinner.
Maybe it’s because most people don’t even bother serving appetizers? I have no clue. Perhaps they’re saving their appetite for game time. I don’t know about you though, if I tried to do that in my house, my family would revolt. They would complain all the way to Christmas. I have to worry about breakfast, snacks, appetizers, dinner and dessert on Turkey Day. They can definitely eat so providing hors d’Oeurves is a must. I can’t get away without them. Luckily for me, I delegate the cooking and baking to everyone so that I don’t have to do it all. You should definitely do that as well. Plus, it’s nice to get everyone in the kitchen on Thanksgiving. Helping out and having fun with some music on. There’s nothing better.
So anyhow, like I was saying, where are all of the Thanksgiving Day appetizers?! Someone buy me a vowel because I don’t know. Just in case I’m not alone in this battle, I’ve decided to make up a recipe for me. For you. For us. So here we are, Thanksgiving Crostini. It sounds and looks fancy but I gotta tell you, it’s not fancy at all. It’s really simple to make and the best part of it is that you can prepare the components the night or day before and then keep them separately. Then just assemble the appetizers right before serving. I devised this recipe to be served either cold, warm, or at room temperature. You can thank me now. Oh you’re welcome. You’re welcome. I’m keeping you all in mind. The last thing you need is another complicated recipe to add to your already long list of things you need to prepare. So let’s make this appetizer, be rock stars in the kitchen and have the best Thanksgiving EVER! We deserve it.
These are all ingredients that I figure you might already have on hand for some of the other recipes. Sausage, mushrooms, sage, bread, cheese, peas, onion, green beans, those are all Thanksgiving-y ingredients, right? I think so, so just agree with me. Nod yes.
The first thing we need to do is brown the sausage. Hot Italian sausage, removed from the casing and browned in a hot skillet over medium-high heat until crispy, about 5 to 7 minutes.
**Note: I like this to be a little spicier than most, but if you’re not into spicy, then you can for sure use sweet Italian sausage!**
Transfer the browned sausage to a plate or bowl and set aside. To the hot skillet, add the onions, garlic and mushrooms. Sauté until soft and just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, chopped fresh thyme and sage.
Add the sausage back in, and cook for a minute or two longer and then turn off heat and set skillet off to the side.
The next step is to get the pea pesto going. Pea pesto is actually new to me, I just made it for the first time for this post. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it, I’m a fan of peas but for some reason I just wasn’t sure. I decided to make it anyway because I can’t tell you to try something without me liking it first, so anyway, I decided to lead by example and step out of my comfort zone regardless of fear. I’m glad I did because pea pesto is my new favorite thing on the planet. For real.
Place the peas into a food processor, or blender, along with the garlic.
**Note: I used a 12oz bag of frozen peas, that I thawed in a colander under cold running water.**
Throw in the rest of the ingredients. Walnuts, parmesan, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
**Tip: If you don’t like walnuts you can use pine nuts or pumpkin seeds instead! If you’re allergic to nuts, you can leave them out altogether. I just like that added texture it gives to the pesto.**
Pulse until broken down and then stream in the olive oil while it’s pulsing until it forms a smooth paste. Give the pesto a taste and adjust the seasonings accordingly.
Transfer the pesto to a bowl and then set aside as well. Then get the string beans ready. Bring a pot of water to a boil and salt it lightly. Cut off the ends of the string beans and throwing them into the boiling water. Cook until the beans are tender and bright green, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Drain the beans and immediately blanch them in cold ice water.
**Tip: Placing the green beans in cold ice water not only stops the cooking process, but it also shocks them into keeping their bright green color!**
Drain the beans in a colander and allow to air dry. Set them off to the side as well, and prepare the last part of this dish. I know I know, there are a lot of steps but it’s worth it I promise.
The last step is to prepare the bread. There needs to be a vessel for the crostini. I’m using a seeded rye baguette. Sliced it on an angle making them somewhat thick. Place the slices bread on a baking sheet.
Bake in a 350ºF oven for about 5 to 10 minutes or until the bread has toasted and is golden brown.
Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Right before serving, slater the top of each toast with lots of ricotta cheese and pea pesto.
Top with green beans, a few on each…it doesn’t have to be precise. And then add a mound of the sausage and mushroom mixture on top of that. You’ll have to work some magic to make sure it all stays on top.
Sprinkle with a bit of parmesan cheese on top and if you want to be super fancy add a fried sage leaf on top of each as a final garnish.
**Note: If you decide to add the fried sage, just heat a bit of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the sage leaves, a few at a time and fry for about 10 to 15 seconds. Drain on paper towels and use as garnish.**
You can serve this at room temperature keep everything warm right before assembling and serving. I like the idea of eating it at room temperature because it’s one less thing to have to worry about later on. Plus it won’t take up any precious oven or stove-top space which I’m sure will be occupied with the turkey and sides.
You can easily keep this vegetarian by omitting the sausage altogether. Use more mushrooms and veggies, instead! I think the sausage gives this dish incredible flavor and that extra Thanksgiving-y boost to it, but I completely understand if you don’t want to use it and keep things simple.
What is everyone looking forward to cooking/baking/eating the most this Thursday? I’m totally looking forward to eating turkey the most. And some mashed potatoes…..and stuffing, YES looking forward to the stuffing. Okay, I’m looking forward to eating everything on the table, but that answer doesn’t count for you…drop a comment and let me know your answer! Also, Happy Thanksgiving! Hope everyone has a safe holiday! Eat lots of food!
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound hot Italian sausage, removed from casing
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 pounds crimini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh sage, chopped
- 1 pound green strings, trimmed
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 seeded baguette, thickly sliced
- parmesan cheese, for garnish
- fried sage leaves, for garnish (optional)
- 1 (12oz) bag frozen peas, thawed
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves
- 2 garlic cloves
- ½ lemon juiced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup walnuts
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- ¼ to ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoons olive oil and allow to heat through. Throw in the sausage and crumble with a wooden spoon. Cook until browned and crispy, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl or plate and set aside. Add the chopped onions, garlic and mushrooms to the skillet. Sauté until soft and just beginning to brown. Season with salt, pepper, fresh thyme and sage. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Lightly season it and throw in the green beans. Cook until tender and bring green. Drain and immediately transfer to a bowl filled with cold water and ice. Drain once more and allow to air dry.
- To make the pesto, throw into all of the ingredients (except the olive oil) into a food processor or blender. Pulse until chopped. While the machine is running, stream in the olive oil until smooth and desired consistency is reached. It should look like a thinner ricotta, but not too thin. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Transfer to a bowl. (Can be made a few days in advance and stored in the fridge).
- Cut the bread into thick slices on an angle and arrange on a baking sheet. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over the bread and bake in the oven for about 5 to 10 minutes, flipping halfway. It should be golden brown and crusty.
- If using fried sage leaves as garnish, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add a bit of oil, and allow to heat through. Add the sage leaves, whole, and fry for a few seconds until crispy. Drain on paper towels and use as garnish.
- To assemble the crostini, spread each slice with ricotta, top with pea pesto, sausage and mushroom filling, parmesan cheese and fried sage, if using. Serve at room temperature or hot. Can be made in advance, kept separately in the fridge and then arranged right before serving. Enjoy!
- yield: about 12 crostini